Wild Bird

320p. Knopf. Sept. 2017. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781101940457.
Gr 8 Up—Fourteen-year-old Wren Clemmens is awakened by cops at 3:47 a.m. and forcibly delivered to a wilderness therapy program in the southern Utah desert. It's no surprise that she is filled with anger, bitterness, and resentment—at her parents, her tattle-tale older sister, and the world. Wren had become caught in a downward spiral of drinking, drug abuse, and shoplifting, and her parents found themselves without other options. Now Wren is forced to confront the unforgiving elements and the stark results of her actions. Gradually, however, she lets down her defenses and learns who she wants to be. This is a strikingly raw and emotional story about making poor choices, facing the agonizing consequences, and ultimately experiencing the joy of getting a second chance. This first-person narrative perfectly captures Wren's cynical yet vulnerable teen voice. The protagonist's transformation is slow but realistic. Flashbacks flow naturally through the book, eventually revealing how Wren arrived at this point. The author deals with some heavy issues but never crosses the line into sensationalism.
VERDICT A hopeful novel that demonstrates that people can change. Give to readers who enjoy survivalist tales.

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